2019 Calvin Awards: Worst Picture
By Reagen Sulewski
February 22, 2019
This year, we learned that John Krasinski got some advice from Paul Thomas Anderson to never say that a movie isn't good, because artistic expression is hard, or some such. To paraphrase a sage wisdom, that's fine and good for filmmakers, but what are *we* to do? So, maybe you want to have solidarity as a film director, but as an audience member who ends up suffering through some of the dreck on our list of Worst Films of the Year, we are definitely gonna call you out.
While we weren't super enamored of 2015's Jurassic World, the semi-reboot of the Jurassic Park franchise - it featured some dodgy acting and questionable gender politics, but solidified Chris Pratt as a genuine action star - the movie was at least fun and mostly cohesive. The sequel, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom fell prey to the same fate as the original Jurassic Park sequel, with a heavy dose of stupiditis. Thus, it wins our Calving for worst of the year. While the series has always been about man's hubris in the face of forces we couldn't control, this time that force was from idiotic scripting decisions floated on down from the studio heads.
After four movies where dinosaurs were the chaos unleashed onto humanity, Fallen Kingdom says maybe these man-eating dinosaurs are... good? Look, the last two years have been difficult on everyone but that's maybe too far. Among the typical faults of a bloated sequel, this includes incoherent, noisy action scenes, annoying kids (a particular fault of this series - you'd think they'd learn) and some serious misunderstanding of what the economics of dinosaurs would be. Admittedly we might be searching for things with that last one, but it's just a sign that there's no great idea that can't be ruined by a terrible, insulting script.
One of the unfortunate aspects to the success of the Marvel movies has been the need to "universify" everything, since you can't let a good idea go to waste. That leads to things like our second place finisher, The Nun, the second spin-off of The Conjuring series. Effectively BOO!: The Movie, it suffers one of the worst sins a horror film can commit: being boring. In attempting to set the table to explain the backstory of a demon from one of the other Conjuring films, it ends up just burying everyone in pointless mythology. Did we need to know what motivated the demons in Poltergeist? No, so let's stop being stupid about it.
Third place goes to Fifty Shades Freed, which almost feels like we're picking on it now. After graduating to first place last year from an also ran, the finale to the series that brought tepid bondage to the general public, then drowned it in domesticity drops a couple spots here as they run out the string. Never figuring out the whole "make our leads seem passionately in love when they hate each other" thing, the final movie turns to ... office politics? and a stalker subplot that appears yanked out of nowhere, like a late-season episode of Melrose Place with slightly more nudity. It's admittedly fun enough to hate-watch, but the first part of that adjective still reigns supreme.
Possibly great ideas gone wrong are often a candidate for our worst lists, with The Happytime Murders being an example of that in fourth place. That said, "Muppets but they have sex and swear" was maybe not the genius idea that Brian Henson thought it was. The whole thing ends up being a fairly depressing tromp through what a bunch of men old enough to know better think a bunch of 13-year-olds would snicker at.
Fifth place gives us another unnecessary sequel, Pacific Rim: Uprising. Guillermo del Toro's original mechas vs. kaiju fest didn't lack for ideas but failed in at least interesting ways. Stepping aside from the director's chair took away those interesting parts for a rather tedious CGI-fest that seemed like overbaked Power Rangers.
Sixth spot goes to A Wrinkle in Time, Oprah's venture into fantasy adaptations. A very ambitious novel, very little survived the trip to the screen in any comprehensible form, with stilted and awkward acting spoiling what remained.
Video game adaptations remain a holy quest for Hollywood, but they struck out again with Tomb Raider, our seventh place pick, which attempted to bring in audiences more familiar with the grittier, slimmed down Lara Croft. Plot issues continue to plague these films, and an adherence to video game mechanics ultimately sinks the idea.
More video games enter the picture at eighth spot, with old school side scroller Rampage representing here, though with very little remaining other of the concept than "giant mutated animals." Many of the same problems that Jurassic World displayed rear their heads here, with woeful CGI being the worst offender of all.
Ninth spot sees Hurricane Heist enter our list, which its utter dismissal of recognizable physics combining with wooden characters and aggressively stupid action scenes to make something that Sharknado fans can turn their noses up at.
Our top ten wraps up with Red Sparrow, a dour spy thriller which makes us want to stage a daring rescue of Jennifer Lawrence - not just for what she has to go through for the film's ugly gender politics, but also for her Moose and Squirrel accent.
2019 Calvin Awards
Best Overlooked Film
Best Supporting Actor
Best Supporting Actress
Best TV Show
Best Use of Music
||Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
||Fifty Shades Freed
||Happytime Murders, The
||Pacific Rim: Uprising
||A Wrinkle in Time